How is our chocolate produced?

A journey from the rain forest to master Swiss chocolatiers

Plucked from organic trees in Ecuador and Peru, our cacao beans are imbued with the dark depth of the rain forest and refined with the meticulous care of Swiss chocolatiers.

First, cacao is planted in a nursery and raised for two to three months before being transplanted to the field.  After about five years, the cacao fruit of most varieties is mature and ready to harvest. The pod is cut open with a machete and the beans and pulp are removed.

Cacao seedlings with members of the Unocace Cacao Cooperative and Alter Eco team members.

The beans are left to ferment for a week in wooden crates. During the fermentation process, the pulp liquifies and complex chemical changes help develop flavor in the beans. The beans are laid out and dried under the sun until the moisture content reaches roughly 7%. This process can take up to three weeks. Dried beans are then shipped to our chocolate manufacturer in Switzerland.

Fermentation boxes at Unocace cooperative, Ecuador.
Crafted by master Swiss chocolatiers

Once in the chocolate factory, the beans are roasted for a few hours to bring out the nuances of flavor, similar to toasting almonds or roasting coffee. The roasted beans are broken down and their skins (chaff) are removed. The pieces of broken down beans, called nibs, are the source of the chocolate we know and love.

Cacao drying under the sun at Unocace Cooperative in Ecuador.

The nibs are then ground under a heavy stone, which separates the colorless cocoa butter and the remaining cocoa mass. The cocoa mass and cocoa butter are ready to be mixed with other ingredients such as raw cane sugar and vanilla beans. The conching, a process that mixes ingredients using slow friction to create heat, lasts for several hours. The longer the conching lasts, the smoother the chocolate is! After being molded and packaged, Alter Eco rich and smooth organic chocolate is born!  Shop our chocolate bars and truffles online or find a retailer near you